The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, is holding five public “Listening Sessions” to review newly proposed guidelines, solicit public comment, and define the shellfish planting oversight process within the Commonwealth’s coastal waters.
“We believe that the public comments about our shellfish planting guidelines are critical to the successful development of a statewide policy that is good for public health, shellfishing and shellfish restoration efforts in the Commonwealth,” said Division of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin.
Shellfish planting is conducted to enhance natural shellfish resources, maintain commercial and recreational fisheries, restore historic populations no longer present, mitigate for adversely impacted stock, and commercially produce shellfish by private aquaculture, according to a press release To that end, DMF is developing shellfish planting guidelines for the state, outlining principles to which shellfish planting programs in Massachusetts should adhere.
“There is increasing interest in planting shellfish to improve water quality in degraded coastal waterbodies,” said DMF Director Paul Diodati. “DMF is interested in balancing the interest in shellfish restoration with the important goals of protecting human health and local shellfish stocks, and enabling opportunities for Massachusetts commercial and recreational shellfishermen.”
DMF’s proposed guidelines apply to all types of shellfish planting, including shellfish propagation, enhancement, restoration, mitigation, and aquaculture in state waters. The guidelines aim to clarify and address considerations for review of shellfish planting projects to benefit project applicants, as well as local, state, and federal resource and permitting agencies, DMF said.
Listening sessions are scheduled from 6 to 8 pm at the Bourne High School Auditorium on Sept. 15, 75 Waterhouse Road, Bourne; Barnstable town hall on September 20; and Wellfleet Senior Center on September 22.